Just this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released shocking figures on the prevalence of bullying in American schools. The data showed that 1 in 3 students had been bullied and that the Internet had clearly worsened the situation by giving aggressors a new and more widespread means of victimizing their peers. Even more alarmingly, a UCLA psychology study revealed that bullies were often perceived by their peers as being “cool”.
Will there ever be an end to the age-old problem of bullying? History seems to indicate that we have a long way to go before humanity sees the last of the terrible incidents of abuse. Ten such cases are presented here with the intent of raising awareness on the horrors of bullying, and hopefully, beginning conversations that will lead to effectively addressing the alarming problem.
10. Boy With Autism Beaten Up
In August of 2014, a video of a man beating a 16-year-old boy went viral. The graphic footage showed the victim covering his head as the man punched and kicked the boy — even dragging him by his hair at one point. The bully turned out to be 18-year-old Andrew Wheeler, while the victim was identified as Aaron Hill, a boy with autism. Wheeler reasoned out that he acted the way he did after receiving a call about “a drunk guy” at a party, and when he drove over to the residence to take the guy home, Hill was pushing and punching another person. Despite his narration of the events and writing an apology letter to Hill’s family, Florida police arrested Wheeler. Furthermore, a woman, Evadean Lydecker Dailey, was also arrested for serving alcohol to the teens at the party.
9. Brothers With Severe Gynecomastia Beaten by Peers
Overweight males are often cruelly teased about their “moobs”, the common shortcut for “man boobs”. But the problem of the Ramirez brothers from the Dominican Republic had nothing to do with being overweight; they suffered from a severe form of gynecomastia — an endocrine disorder that caused them to grow fully developed breasts. As a result, the boys, who were aged 11, 12, and 17 in 2012, were often degraded, bullied, and even beaten for their appearance. The abuse got so bad that Felipe Ramirez, the boys’ father, grew desperate to seek help for his sons because as a food stall vendor, he couldn’t afford to pay for their treatment. Fortunately, Dr. Pedro Delgado, head of the Marcelino Velez Santana Hospital, agreed to finance breast-removal operations for the boys, and after 2-hour procedures, the Ramirez brothers were given the chance to lead normal lives.
8. Boy Circulates Naked Pictures of His Ex
18-year-old Jessica Logan was in love, and she felt that it was alright to send naked photos of herself to her boyfriend. Eventually, the couple broke up, and that was when Jessica’s ex cruelly proceeded to send the explicit pictures of Jessica to fellow students. Understandably embarrassed, Jessica repeatedly skipped school. Worse, in July of 2008, Jessica’s mother found her daughter hanging in her bedroom with her cellphone on the floor.
Years after Jessica’s suicide, her family eventually decided to settle with Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, which Jessica’s parents had accused of failing to prevent Jessica from being harassed by other students. The case was also the reason behind the passage of the Jessica Logan Act, which required schools to prevent bullying via electronic means and equipped teachers through anti-bullying training.
7. Pack of Bullies Hangs Younger Boy
In January of 2013, 13-year-old Nadin Khoury was quietly walking near an apartment complex in Philadelphia when seven boys suddenly ganged up on him. The “pack of wolves,” as they were described by Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, punched Nadin to the floor, then dragged him in the snow as they abusively screamed at him. As if that weren’t enough, the bullies proceeded to hang Nadin upside down in a tree, allowed him to fall face first, then afterwards hung him by his coat on a spiked fence post. All throughout, several passersby ignored what was going on, and one of the gang members filmed the abuse on a mobile phone . The bullies, aged between 13 and 17, were eventually identified as students at Upper Darby High School, and all seven of them were charged with kidnapping and assault.
6. Jealous Girls Bully New Girl in Town
15-year-old Phoebe Prince moved from Ireland to Massachusetts, and as a freshman at South Hadley High School, began dating a popular senior football player. That was when seven girls and two males began making life a living hell for Phoebe. The bullies began posting offensive status messages and tweets that called the new student an “Irish slut” and “whore”. They also knocked Phoebe’s books from her hands, scribbled her face out from photographs in the school, and sent Phoebe threatening text messages. Then, in January of 2010, as Phoebe was walking home, one of the students flung a can of Red Bull at her. That was the day Phoebe decided to hang herself in a stairwell. Tragically, even after Phoebe had died, her tormentors proceeded to post vicious comments on the dead teen’s Facebook memorial page. Eventually, the nine bullies were indicted on charges of bodily injury, criminal harassment, stalking, and statutory rape.
5. Boy Born With Facial Deformity Cruelly Abused
12-year-old Brandon Myers of Kansas was born with a cleft palate and had undergone several corrective surgeries. Still, Brandon’s deformity was noticeable, and he was also left with a pronounced speech impediment. For these reasons, the boy was often made the object of cruel name-calling and was left out of his peers’ social activities. In fact, when Brandon was in the third grade, several students told him they were going to “fill up the hole” in his face, and during recess, those students actually carried out their threat by shoving dirt and grass into Brandon’s mouth and nose. Soon, the bullying took its toll on the fragile boy, and in February of 2007, Brandon came to school utterly depressed. He gave a classmate a note that said, “I will hang myself tonight so if you have anything to say to me I suggest you tell me before 4:35 p.m. tonight.” Regrettably, Brandon’s classmates even teased him for his “acting”, which obviously influenced the boy to actually carry out his suicide.
4. Elected to Homecoming Court as a Prank
In September of 2009, Whitney Kropp, a 16-year-old from Ogemaw Heights High School in Michigan, was thrilled when she was elected to the homecoming court of her sophomore class. However, Whitney’s excitement quickly turned to sadness when she learned from other students that her nomination was a prank by popular kids at her school. Worsening the situation, Whitney was soon told that the male student who was elected alongside her had withdrawn. The troubled teen initially decided that she, too, would skip the celebrations, and in fact, she even contemplated suicide. Fortunately, in a surprising turn of events, Whitney’s community rallied around her; offers were made to pay for her clothes, makeup, and hairstyling — even to buy her dinner. Furthermore, a Facebook page in support of Whitney received over 100,000 likes. Then, during the homecoming game, hundreds of kids showed up wearing orange — Whitney’s favorite color — to cheer the bullying victim on. After receiving her award, the beaming member of the homecoming court bravely said, “The kids that are bullying you, do not let them bring you down.”
3. Gym Teacher Takes Part in Bullying
A 13-year-old boy from Kopachuk Middle School in Washington was swung from his arms and legs, had his feet written on, was made to wear a traffic cone on his head, and was gagged with his own sock by his fellow eighth-graders. The worst part of it all was that John Rosi, the school wrestling coach, took part in the bullying. The victim’s parents gained awareness of the incident that took place in February of 2012 after their son became withdrawn and refused to go to school. They then requested the school to ask students to hand in their cellphone videos of the incident. In one of those said videos, Rosi was seen saying, “I’m feeling kind of gassy,” as he pretended to sit on the boy. When the matter was brought to the attention of school officials, Rosi was deemed to have displayed “inappropriate classroom management” but wasn’t fired because of his “body of work” over an 18-year teaching career.
2. 68-Year-Old Bus Monitor Bullied by 7th Graders
In June of 2012, three videos of a 68-year-old bus monitor from New York were posted on Facebook and YouTube. All of them showed the victim, Karen Huff Klein, being taunted by 7th graders with insults about her age and her appearance. There was even a point when the kids threatened to egg Klein’s home, urinate on her property, and stab her. Worse, a boy referring to Klein’s family said, “They all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be near you,” and the sad truth was that Klein’s eldest son had killed himself ten years earlier. An understandably upset and weeping Klein responded by saying she knew all the kids’ addresses and was going to send them thank-you cards “for being so nice.”
Later, when the videos went viral, the bullies received many death threats and were suspended from Greece Athena Middle School for a full academic year. Meanwhile, those who sympathized with Klein raised more than $700,000 for her, and Klein said she would use $100,000 of that amount to establish the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation.
1. Mother Bullies Daughter’s Peer
Megan Meier of Missouri was quite a fragile 13-year-old girl who had been seeing a psychiatrist for attention deficit disorder and depression since she was in the third grade. However, her outlook in life seemed to change for the better after she developed a crush on a boy who messaged her on MySpace. The lad, Josh, said he was homeschooled and didn’t have a phone, but the two were still able to nurture a close online friendship. Then, on October 16, 2006, Josh’s tone inexplicably changed. He messaged Megan, “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.” That was followed by bulletins about Megan being posted online and Megan receiving a message from Josh saying, “Everybody in O’Fallon knows who you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.” Tragically, Megan took those words to heart and decided to hang herself in her bedroom closet.
An investigation later revealed that Josh’s account was fake, one created by Lori Drew — the mother of a friend of Megan — to find out what Megan would say about other people. In 2008, Drew was convicted of violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but in 2009, the conviction was reversed on appeal.